Crimes are generally classified in the State of Florida as either misdemeanors or felonies based upon the maximum possible punishment that could be received upon conviction.
- Third Degree Felony (F3) : A third degree felony is the least serious. The maximum possible punishment for conviction of a third degree felony is five years in prison.
- Second Degree Felony (F2): The maximum possible punishment upon conviction of a second degree felony is 15 years in prison.
- First Degree Felony (F1) : The maximum possible punishment upon conviction for a first degree felony is 30 years in prison.
- Life Felony (PBL) : Upon conviction of a life felony will result in the Defendant receiving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of early release.
- Capital Felony refers to those felonies which are punishable by the death penalty or life without the possibility of release.
The Criminal Punishment Code (“CPC”) will determine whether the felony for which you are charged will require mandatory prison upon conviction after totaling all the points contained in your scoresheet. At the time of plea to any felony, a scoresheet is calculated and points are assessed for any and all of the following categories that apply: primary or current offense, additional offenses, victim injury, prior record, legal status, community sanction, along with any applicable enhancements.What is a Downward Departure?
The judge in your case is required by law to sentence you to a term of imprisonment if your scoresheet contains more than 44 total sentencing points UNLESS the prosecutor or judge agrees to depart downward from the sentencing guidelines. This is known as a downward departure.
There are several bases upon which a downward departure can be granted. They can be found in Florida Statute 921.0026. Some of the most common are:
- The departure was agreed to by the State;
- The Defendant played a relatively small or minor role in the criminal episode;
- The Defendant has a mental disorder and needs treatment;
- It is more important for the Defendant to remain out of prison so that he or she can payoff restitution owed to the victim;
- The victim engaged in some conduct to cause or provoke the incident;
- The Defendant cooperated with the State to resolve the crime or some other crime;
- The offense was committed in an unsophisticated manner and an isolated incident for which the Defendant has shown remorse;
- The Defendant qualifies for drug treatment;
- The Defendant is a youthful offender.
It is always best if the prosecutor will agree to a downward departure because this eliminates the uncertainty of leaving it in the hands of the judge. However, there are many occasions in which the prosecutor does not agree, and therefore, the only option is to ask the judge for a downward departure based on one or more of the enumerated statutory mitigators. In such circumstances, the burden of proof is on the Defendant to prove by substantial and competent evidence at sentencing that he or she is eligible for a downward departure. This is a risky prospect because there is no guarantee that the judge will grant a departure sentence, and if the judge does not depart, then he or she will be required to sentence the Defendant to prison based on the total sentencing points on the scoresheet.
If you, a friend, or family member have been arrested, regardless of whether the initial crime allegedly occurred in Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island, Titusville, Rockledge, Cape Canaveral, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, West Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, Palm Shores, Grant-Valkaria, Mims, or anywhere else in Brevard County, contact me to immediately schedule your free consultation.
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